Race to the wire in PA: Trump embarrassment or close call?
MT. LEBANON, Pa. — Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone were locked in a surprisingly tight congressional election Tuesday night that pitted the strength of President Donald Trump’s grasp on blue-collar America against the energy and anger of the political left.
The contest has drawn national attention as a bellwether for the midterm elections in November.
In a region Trump carried by 20 points, the White House has scrambled to rally voters behind Saccone, who cast himself as the president’s “wingman,” but has struggled at times to connect with the blue-collar coalition that fueled Trump’s victory little more than a year ago.
Democrat Conor Lamb, a 33-year old Marine veteran and former federal prosecutor, downplayed his opposition to the Republican president on Tuesday and insisted instead that the race hinged on local issues.
“This didn’t have much to do with President Trump,” Lamb said after casting his vote in suburban Pittsburgh.
Trump views designs for border wall while bashing California
SAN DIEGO — President Donald Trump on Tuesday eagerly inspected eight towering prototypes for his long-sought wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and accused California of putting “the entire nation at risk” by refusing to take tough action against illegal immigration.
Trump, making his first trip to California as president, said he preferred a fully concrete wall because it was the hardest to climb, but he noted that it needed to be see-through. He said the first thing he noticed on the drive to the border was the patched-up holes in part of the existing fence.
“We have a lousy wall over here now, but at least it stops 90, 95 percent,” Trump said. “When we put up the real wall, we’re going to stop 99 percent. Maybe more than that.”
Trump’s visit was greeted with peaceful protests by demonstrators both for and against his planned wall. The trip came amid an escalating battle between his administration and the liberal state, which has refused to help federal agents detain immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
The president renewed his criticism of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, saying Tuesday that he was presiding over sky-high tax rates and that the state’s sanctuary policies “put the entire nation at risk.”
10 Things to Know for Wednesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:
1. TILLERSON’S TURBULENT TENURE ENDS
Trump unceremoniously dumps his secretary of state — who reportedly once called the president a “moron” — and picks CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him.
2. PRESIDENT TAKES SHOPPING TRIP TO BORDER
Trump, making his first trip to California as president, inspects eight towering prototypes for his long-sought wall at the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
House Democrats cite ‘evidence’ of Trump-Russia collusion
WASHINGTON — Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are sharply disagreeing with Republicans on the panel who say they don’t see any evidence of collusion or coordination between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, said Tuesday that he believes there is “significant evidence” of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, though he couldn’t say if there was criminal wrongdoing.
Republicans on the committee announced Monday that they’d completed a draft report and they saw no evidence of collusion. Schiff, who saw the GOP report for the first time on Tuesday, said Democrats on the committee would try to continue the investigation where possible and would write their own report to lay out conclusions from the intelligence panel’s yearlong investigation into Russian meddling.
The GOP report “misleadingly characterizes events, and paints a portrait and tells a story that could not have been better written if it was written in the White House itself,” Schiff said.
Trump enthusiastically praised the draft Republican report, telling reporters Tuesday morning that the White House is “very, very happy” with the GOP conclusions.
3 rural Illinois men charged with Minnesota mosque bombing
CHICAGO — Federal authorities on Tuesday charged three men from rural central Illinois with the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last year and said one of the suspects told an investigator the goal of the attack was to “scare” Muslims out of the United States.
A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Illinois, says the men also are suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic. The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, was bombed just before morning prayers on Aug. 5, causing a fire and extensive damage although no one was injured or killed. And there was an attempted bombing of the Champaign, Illinois, Women’s Health Practice on Nov. 7.
One of the men, Michael B. Hari, 47, described in an April 2017 Chicago Tribune article how he drafted a $10 billion plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico, citing President Donald Trump’s call for such a wall. Hari drew up the proposal after launching a security company, Crisis Resolution Security Services, the newspaper said.
Hari also filed a federal lawsuit just last month in central Illinois, naming the U.S. secretaries of agriculture and health and human services as defendants. It accuses their departments of violating his constitutional rights by doing the food-safety certification work that his firm, Equicert, does.
“The People of the United States have rejected the Marxist doctrine that the government shall own the means of production,” he wrote, according to the court document. He requested a court order barring federal officials from interfering with his business.
Families of 2 Austin package bomb victims knew each other
AUSTIN, Texas — Families of two people killed by package bombs left on their doorsteps in Austin knew each other and were connected through local activism in the black community, a civic leader said Tuesday. But it was not clear how they might be tied to a third household where a package bomb also exploded.
Investigators have said the three blasts that killed two people and wounded two others could have been hate crimes since all the victims were black or Hispanic. But they also said they have not ruled out any possible motive.
Draylen Mason, 17, was killed and his mother wounded when a package bomb was opened Monday in their kitchen. The teen’s grandfather is Norman Mason, a prominent dentist in east Austin. He was friends with Freddie Dixon, stepfather of 39-year-old Anthony House, who died in a similar attack in another part of the city on March 2, said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP.
“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Linder said, explaining that he was concerned by the fact that the families were acquainted.
Still unknown is what connection — if any — the two families had to a third household where another package bomb exploded Monday, wounding a 75-year-old Hispanic woman who remains hospitalized in critical condition but has not yet been identified.
Trump axes Tillerson, names CIA’s Pompeo chief US Diplomat
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unceremoniously dumped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday — via Twitter — and picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to shift from America’s spy chief to its top diplomat. The abrupt announcement ended the turbulent tenure of the man who reportedly called the president a “moron” but wanted to stay, and deepened the disarray in the Trump administration.
The plans to oust Tillerson had been drawn up months ago, but the timing caught even senior White House officials unawares. The firing was just the latest in an exodus of administration officials, including those in Trump’s inner circle, with the president already setting records for staff turnover and several other Cabinet secretaries facing ethics investigations.
However, Trump emphatically rejected talk of chaos in his year-old administration as he nears a pivotal moment on the international stage with his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He declared Tuesday, “I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.”
He said he was nominating the CIA’s deputy director, Gina Haspel, to take over for Pompeo at the intelligence agency. If confirmed, Haspel would be the CIA’s first female director
As for Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil CEO whom Trump picked as his administration’s top Cabinet official, the president said simply, “we disagreed on things.”
AP: Child-on-child sex assault cases languish on US bases
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — A decade after the Pentagon began confronting rape in the ranks, the U.S. military frequently fails to protect or provide justice to the children of service members when they are sexually assaulted by other children on base, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Reports of assaults and rapes among kids on military bases often die on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confesses. Other cases don’t make it that far because criminal investigators shelve them, despite requirements they be pursued.
The Pentagon does not know the scope of the problem and does little to track it. AP was able to document nearly 600 sex assault cases on base since 2007 through dozens of interviews and by piecing together records and data from the military’s four main branches and school system.
Sexual violence occurs anywhere children and teens gather on base — homes, schools, playgrounds, food courts, even a chapel bathroom. Many cases get lost in a dead zone of justice, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.
“These are the children that we need to be protecting, the children of our heroes,” said Heather Ryan, a former military investigator.
Storm blasts winter-weary Northeast; thousands lose power
BOSTON — The third powerful nor’easter in two weeks slammed the Northeast on Tuesday, bringing blizzard conditions and 2 feet of snow to some communities and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
High winds and blowing snow led meteorologists to categorize the storm as a blizzard in parts of New England, including Boston. By afternoon, power outages climbed to more than 250,000 just in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“We’re not out of winter yet, that’s for sure,” Paul Knight, of Portland, said as snow accumulated on his eyebrows during a stroll. “The groundhog was right. Six more weeks of winter, and probably then some.”
Boston’s usually-packed subway trains were nearly empty as many workers stayed home and schools closed. Amtrak suspended all service Tuesday between Boston to New York City. The railroad later announced that most service between the two cities would resume on Wednesday.
The storm was expected to last through most of Tuesday, disrupting road and air travel. The flight-tracking site FlightAware reported more than 1,500 canceled flights on Tuesday. At Boston’s Logan International Airport, the terminals were mostly empty with airport workers and the cleaning crew outnumbering passengers.
Adrian Peterson, Jordy Nelson cut, Brees stays with Saints
Adrian Peterson’s short stint in Arizona is over. Jordy Nelson long and productive stay in Green Bay has ended, too.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees is staying put in the Big Easy, Case Keenum is headed to the Rocky Mountains, and Kirk Cousins will make his first visit as a free agent to Minnesota. The Vikings long have been considered a natural landing spot for one of the most valuable quarterbacks available.
One day before the league’s new year begins, veteran running back Peterson was released by the Cardinals on Tuesday, and receiver Nelson — Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target — was let go by the Packers.
Seven-time All-Pro running back Peterson began last season with New Orleans but, after barely playing there, was dealt to the Cardinals. Peterson rushed for 134 yards in a win over Tampa Bay and 159 in a win over San Francisco. In six games, he gained 448 yards on 129 carries for Arizona before being sidelined with a neck injury.
Peterson, who turns 33 next week, ranks 12th in the NFL in career rushing with 12,276 yards.
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